Friday, December 9, 2016

Friday! Woooooooooo!

I'm gonna post every day even if it kills me.

Check this out.

This is part of my routine--- I get the three dogs down the front stairs, which is no easy feat because the elderly one on the right has the bone density of spun cotton; each stair is a perilous challenge. Then once they're all assembled in the foyer there, I step outside to see if there are any dogs in the vicinity. If the coast is clear, I let these three out. If there's a dog walking by, we wait. These guys will launch on a passing dog like it's al qaeda.

And then this, from tonight. I finally got this bus on video; it's been making me sick for about a week.

This one bus could throw off a whole cap and trade framework. If it belched out any more foul fumes,  Trump would appoint it to the EPA. The cars that follow this bus weave out the lane so dangerously that I worry my long, storied career will end obscurely on a Skokie street.

I wrote the company; we'll see what they do. School bus companies always seem so sketchy to me.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Giving The 5 Essentials?

Getting back to my roots here...

If you have to give the 5Essentials survey to young kids, just be ready to explain this question:

Of the subjects below, which did you have FIRST this week?


Many kids can handle a phrasing like that, but younger kids and ELL's struggle with it. The question that comes after it asks.  "When is the FIRST period when you have [the class that you chose]?"

Like I say, a lot of kids can answer these questions, but a lot also can't. They think the question is asking what class they have first period.

Not criticizing the survey; it's a fine survey. Just a tough couple of questions.

If you don't work in a school, you may not know that I'm going out on a limb here. I haven't read the copyright rules on the 5 Essentials, but I'm going with my gut here--- I don't think they're going to come after my teaching license for pointing this one thing out.

If this were the PARCC, I would have just violated a security agreement and I would be in serious trouble. You're not allowed to look at the PARCC at all; they'll definitely come after you.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Scam Continues

Just to pile on to the terrific piece in the Sun Times today by Dan Mihalopoulos, where he explains that taxpayers are now on the hook for another $4.5m to pay for buildings they've already paid for, in order to settle the divorce between UNO and UNCSN.

I wanted to point out that at the end of the day, the taxpayers will still not own the buildings, which is different from a normal school arrangement.

For example, I work on the North Shore, and my employing district owns a building that used to be a school but it now rented out to community groups, including an alternative school and a daycare facility. My employing district might choose to sell the building, generating revenue for the school district. Or, it might not. They talk about it in open meetings in front of voters.

With these UNO buildings, when they eventually fail, and they will almost certainly do so because their bond debt is based on growth projections that now seem absurd, the taxpayers will not actually own any of those buildings. So, the taxpayers will either be coughing up another round of payments to keep them open for their private owners, or the bondholders will eventually be paid when the network is liquidated by Wall Street and the buildings are sold to pay down the debt.

It's a huge scam. It's better just to build public buildings with transparent financing and own the things.

It's Here

This is the view from Chicago right now.

Yesterday I plowed through all my laundry and other chores so that I could walk around the city today with the good camera, but there are globs of snowy rainballs coming down from the sky. I'm staying in. 

Arg, December! Is there any worse month? Every single night is booked or double-booked. And the endless reminders that it's the Most. Wonderful. Time. Of. The Year.

It totally isn't.

Saturday, December 3, 2016


I do not believe "euphanism" has received enough attention.

The story is over in Slate, but even they whitewashed the fact that Trump not only does not know what a euphemism is, he also does not know how to pronounce the word.

By the way, the whole clip is just batshit. I've known guys like this; they just keep talking and string together nonsense and nobody calls them on it because it's just not worth the effort.

Here's the whole thing. It's a CNN embed code so don't blame me if it doesn't work on your IOS device.

Very, very low intelligence on display there. No internal coherence throughout the whole thing. It's not just a failure to know the meaning and pronunciation of a word; it's the whole I'm going to bully you with my voice thing he's got going. It probably works inside his family, but the Russians or the Chinese or even that little monster running the Philippines---- someone is going to call him on it. He's going to get a lot of people killed before he's done.

It's all such familiar behavior, if you've been paying attention throughout your life. People who lie a lot talk like this--- they just keep talking and bobbing and weaving and nevermind the internal contradictions because the words just keep coming. Remember that time Trump said to --- oh, who was it? Anderson Cooper?-- that Putin was in the Ukraine in a way. And then he was just allowed to keep talking without any kind of cross examination when it was perfectly obvious that he had no idea about Russia and Crimea and probably could not find Ukraine on a map.

I think the safe thing to assume is that every single thing the man says is a lie or at the very least a spontaneous word-string assembled by a person who hasn't thought very deeply about too many things throughout his life and is just trying to get through a meeting.

December 3, 2016

Couple of shots from today.

Every day I do three really short dog walks, with all three dogs---- the short walks are for the elderly dog, Duke. 

Then I do three medium-length walks---- these are for my heartdog, Old Scout, who ain't what she used to be.

Then I do one marathon walk for this monster young dog, Brody. I would seriously hire a teenage to wear this dog out if teenagers still did chores for money. There are times when he runs me into a cardiac emergency situation along the beach and I mentally plan how to keep him leashed to me while I dial 911 from the sand. 

Anyway, on Greenview today, someone had pinned a child's lost toy to a tree, probably in the hope that the child would eventually see it. So I was about to take a snapshot of that when Brody decided the toy was his.

We had a wrestling match to get the thing out of his mouth, but eventually I got it back on the tree.

And here's just a random shot of the United Methodist church up the street. Beautiful building, but gravity and the elements are definitely having their way with it. I am not a religious person but I have been to services here.  There was a little something for everyone. 

Then I also saw this little bit of fluff on Twitter sometime during the day.


I know that for people who get excited about this process, it's very exciting, but count me out. I think that if you want to draw people's attention away from all the influence-peddling and pay-to-play, and all the TIF opacity, and the continuous stonewalling of people on charter schools and the elected school board, then what you would do is set up a little event where they can vote on how to spend $1m in ward projects. The city budget is in the billions, and the Council approves it without any debate. And this clown alderman travels the world accepting awards for what is actually a pretty basic thing.

 People should keep this peanut-gallery bullshit in perspective until the city council starts acting like a check and balance against mayoral power rather than an expensive rubber stamp and insiders' pipeline to deals. Because that's what's really going on.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


Just a little picture from tonight. It symbolizes where the country is right now.

That may look like a streetlight up above there but it's a meteor, I'm pretty sure.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Here We Go With The Charters

Do you remember the $42m federal grant that Heather Steans, Ron Sandack, Bruce Rauner, and the charter people got from Arne Duncan?

(In the grant proposal, they used an IFT research piece as a support document, even though the IFT did not support--- or even know about-- the grant proposal and would have opposed it.)

The main thrust of the grant is to pay for new charter school proposals and to defray some of the initial costs of charter startups--- it's not an ongoing grant to pay for the longterm costs of charters, which are paid for via a reduction in services and choices available to students in democratically controlled public schools.

It's weird to me that even the very planning and design of charter schools--- which have a sort of free-market sales pitch to them--- are now leaning on federal funding. But there it is.

The RFP for the start up proposals is about to go out in January, according to Tony Smith.

In September 2015, the Illinois State Board of Education was awarded a federal Charter Schools Program Quality School Options Grant in the amount of $42 million for a five-year term. These funds are intended to provide financial assistance to new charter schools for allowable activities during the program design phase and start-up costs in the first two years of operation. This competitive grant will be awarded through multi-cohort competitions throughout the term of the grant. The second cohort Request for Proposal will be released in January 2017. High-quality applications may be awarded up to $950,000 for up to three years for the design and implementation of a new charter school. 

So, that will be interesting. Someone should keep an eye on it.

Obviously there was a first cohort, and I'm not 100% sure, but I think those were not the design/implementation grants. They were smaller grants for materials requested by existing charter schools.

I FOIA'd those grants, and I believe I have the material from the four or five charters that were awarded money. They're not very interesting, but if you want those, I have them. It's basically just requests for new programs and what have you. Online curricula, that sort of thing. If you read a lot of grants you start to see the same thing over and over again. The word "utilize" is in there a lot. There's nothing new under the sun.

It's this next round that will be interesting.